In a prophetic discussion about the end times, Jesus included a descriptive comment about the general population at the time of the great global flood of Noah’s day. The focus of His illustration had to do with their ignorance. In reference to any awareness of their impending doom, Jesus said that they, “knew not, until the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). A lack of knowledge is the classic definition of ignorance, and in their case, it was a very costly deficit.
Ignorance about vital things is just as costly today as it was then. It always carries a price tag beyond what we are willing, or able, to pay. Given that the condition can be deadly, let’s clarify it a bit. Jesus wasn’t suggesting that Noah’s neighbors were just stupid, and neither are we. He was pointing out the dire implications of something vital that they didn’t “know”. Ignorance does not necessarily indicate that those who practice it are incapable of obtaining or processing information, only that, for whatever reason, they have not done so. Some people who are quite intellectually astute and capable are grossly ignorant in some areas. The folks around Noah were clearly ignorant regarding the status of their relationship to an impending and unavoidable event that would have permanent impact on their lives and their eternal destiny. I would suggest that, at least for some of them, the condition was not the result of a lack of available information.
For instance, the local residents were fully aware of the fact that Noah and his sons were engaged in a huge construction project. Let’s face it, the ark project would have been hard to hide, and large outdoor construction projects always attract attention, especially from guys. For them, construction projects are like powerful attention magnets, ranking only slightly behind things like women, sporting events, stuff that explodes, and anything we can ride that goes fast enough to kill us if we wreck it or fall off. Construction projects are especially intriguing if they are unexpected, and even more so if it isn’t clear at first what they’re building.
The point here is that information, at least to some degree, was available during the time the ark was under construction. Questions were no doubt inserted amid the sarcastic comments, jokes, and assorted verbal mockery – and just as surely, Noah did not withhold the truth about God’s impending judgment. Whether they would choose to believe it was a different question. Whether they would choose to act on it, still another. Whether they were doomed because they didn’t know what was going on, or because of a conscious disregard of the information they were offered, is really a moot question. Either way, the outcome was the same. Those who drowned because they rejected the information Noah offered were indistinguishable from those who drowned in total ignorance.
Will Rogers, in his simple, homespun way, shared this quip about ignorance a couple of generations ago, “You know,” he said, “everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” Though he probably said that with a characteristically lighthearted twinkle in his eye, his subject is nothing to laugh about these days. As a people, we are a living paradox of ignorance. We exhaust ourselves in an endless quest for more and more information about things that are of less and less real worth. As Paul said it, we are “…always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7 NKJV). Never in the history of mankind has there been a society with more free access to more kinds of information from more sources than we have today. At the same time, the violent and chaotic state of our society cries out that there has never been a greater need for trustworthy information that is vital to our survival as a free people. In spite of that, we devote vast amounts of time and energy searching for more data about things that have no bearing on the quality of our lives, while we flounder about in a quagmire of ignorance regarding information that tells us authoritatively how to live. Our consuming quest to expand our collection of worthless data about things that don’t matter only ensures a corresponding expansion of our reservoir of ignorance about the vital truths that hold the hope for our physical, social, and spiritual welfare. Knowledge about the true nature of the God who created us won’t be discovered in a Google search about the latest Hollywood extravaganza, and He doesn’t have a Facebook page. As a people, we can surf the web like a pro, but are woefully ignorant about the means God provided for our redemption and/or the principles He gave that promote peace, harmony, and joy in our relationships. Acquiring information happens to us every day, whether we want it to or not. What kinds of information we acquire, and what we choose to do with it is up to us. God’s people throughout history have been in possession of a unique block of information about their Creator, about their own fallen nature, and about the redemptive plan He offers. Access to that vital information is free and easily accessible in our day, but it comes with an option. We can choose to be informed or not.
It has been accurately stated that knowledge is power. Conversely, the lack of it is vulnerability and impotence. Ignorance is the first shackle that binds every oppressed people, but if that shackle can be broken, no combination of others can hold them very long. Jesus’ words, “They knew not…” was the sad precursor to destruction in Noah’s day, and remains so today. Subjugation and destruction always awaits those who are deprived of information vital to their welfare and freedom. Those most easily overcome are the ones who have turned away of their own accord and willingly rejected the truth that sets men free… Just ask Noah’s neighbors.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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